Houston, We Have a Problem.
May 4, 2020 by David Day
According to Gallup, 62% of Americans are working from home now. That number is double what it was in Mid-March 2020. That’s an astounding figure, and it has broad and deep implications in how business is done moving forward.
But how is that playing out in your world?
It’s been nearly two months since the Covid19 guidelines were issued, and by now you’ve made the work-from-home adjustment and may even be in a new rhythm with your team. You have meetings, get reports, talk to customers, and you’re doing business. I know it doesn’t feel like time to celebrate but give yourself an “attaboy/girl” for moving forward and keeping it going. You’re the envy of many.
But there is a problem: we’re not meant for this.
We are meant for social interaction. Human beings need human contact. Some team members handle isolation really well- others just don’t. It may seem that introverted team members may do better in a WFH environment, but that’s not always the case. When there is no water cooler conversation, no coffee break, and no lunchroom interaction, even the introverted can become disoriented. When that happens, it affects the entire team, and by the time you realize it, it may be too late.
Interestingly, Astronauts have a lot to say about working in isolation and feeling lonely and disconnected. Who knows more about working in an isolated environment than someone in the International Space Station? Did you know there is a profession called “Space Psychologist?” This link shows an article from Forbes with some good tips from Astronauts that seem appropriate for the WFH environment. Keep in mind, Astronauts train for this- we didn’t get any warning, much less training, for functioning in our Mercury Capsule of a workspace.
So, earth to business leader: pay attention to your people on a different, more personal level. Don’t simply ask about their work list. Listen for what they care about. Great employers engage the entire person, not just the part that shows up to work. “How’s your mom?” “Is your daughter upset there isn’t a graduation ceremony?” “Are you sleeping well and getting exercise?”
It’s just a conversation, but it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s take one small step for mankind.
It’s a new DAY. Make it great.
David Day is a marketing and business growth consultant with an emphasis on customer service, marketing, and culture.